Last push on big bills

Senate Democrats this week want to pass two controversial bills on the back of defense authorization legislation. But it’s not clear whether they have the votes.

There is a massive lobbying push to round up votes on an immigration reform bill called the DREAM Act and on a measure affecting the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule about gay people in the military.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Wasserman Schultz fights to keep her job Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return MORE (D-Nev.) surprised many on Capitol Hill by scheduling these votes so close to the election.

But before any votes on either gays in the military or immigration, the Senate must pass a motion, requiring 60 votes, to proceed to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act has previously attracted GOP support, though several Republicans indicate they will reject it this week. 

The pressure from immigration-reform advocates will be on Democrats who voted against it in 2007, including Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusWyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny The chaotic fight for ObamaCare MORE (Mont.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Mary LandrieuMary Landrieu oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Republican announces bid for Vitter’s seat MORE (La.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillWasserman Schultz fights to keep her job The Hill's 12:30 Report Dem senator: Sexual assault case show 'troubling command culture' MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJon TesterWasserman Schultz fights to keep her job It's time we empower veterans with entrepreneurial skills Dem introduces bill to block new government hacking powers MORE (Mont.) and Mark PryorMark PryorEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood Ex-Sen. Landrieu joins law and lobby firm MORE (Ark.). 

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump MORE (D-N.J.) last week indicated Democrats are closing in on the necessary votes for the DREAM Act, but getting to 60 will be extremely challenging.

The vote on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will also be close, with much of the attention now on centrist Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP lawmaker: 'Republicans were wrong’ to block Garland Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds Senators unveil bill to overhaul apprenticeship programs MORE (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

There is other important legislation to get done this week. While some House Democrats are not thrilled with the long-stalled small-business bill that cleared the Senate last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has embraced it. That bill will clear the House and soon be signed by the president.

With the House expected to adjourn at the end of next week, lawmakers are scrambling to get bills on the congressional agenda. But many measures are slowly dying or will limp into the lame-duck session with an uncertain future.

Bills on Cuba travel, Internet gambling, stem cells, food safety and child nutrition are on life support, hoping to be revived after the elections.

Their fate is better than others, however. Climate change is dead, as is so-called card-check legislation favored by labor unions. A budget rescissions bill that President Obama called on Congress to pass in May has gone nowhere.

A U.S.-Russia arms treaty, however, has attracted momentum. The START treaty cleared a Senate panel last week, 14-4. Despite needing 67 votes to clear the full chamber, it stands a better chance than most pending bills passing in the lame-duck session.